Climate change is a global phenomenon, and its effects in Maine must be understood in the context of changes taking place throughout the world. Since 2015 we have witnessed a remarkable escalation in the evidence for a changing planet along with an escalation in the political and social engagement on how to respond. In Maine, we are acutely aware of the importance of our ocean, forests, fields, wetlands, lakes, and rivers to our way of life, our livelihoods, and our economy. Maine's Climate Future 2020 presents the most recent information on Maine's changing climate, impacts to our critical natural resources, adaptation measures, and what we are likely to see in the future. While great challenges lie ahead, significant action today can avoid the worst-case scenarios for our future and build a sustainable society that we owe to future generations.
Climate and weather exert a critical influence on the health of Maine’s people, ecosystems and economy. Across coastal communities, where fishing, forestry, tourism, and agriculture serve as the economic backbone, the changing climate poses near and long-term challenges. This report provides a basis for future planning by developing plausible climate scenarios for the next 20 years – the period 2020–2040. The plausible scenarios follow an examination of historical climate trends, climate–commodity connections, and sources of climate variability that affect Maine. This report was produced with generous support from the Russell Grinnell Memorial Trust.
This update focuses on highlights of our understanding in 2015 of past, present, and future trends in key indicators of a changing climate specific to Maine, and recent examples of how Maine people are experiencing these changes. Sometimes the effects are the direct result of shifting temperature or precipitation. Other times, climate-related changes in other parts of the country and world affect Maine, directly or indirectly. Climate change often acts in concert with other stresses, including a changing chemical climate, rather than being a singular cause of any given change. Sometimes these changes represent a new opportunity.
This report considers past change over geologic time, recent evidence of accelerated rates of change, and the implications of continued climate change in Maine during the 21st century as a result of greenhouse gas emissions and their associated pollutants. Even if a coordinated response succeeds in eliminating excess greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the century, something that appears highly unlikely today, climate change will continue because the elevated levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) can persist in the atmosphere for thousands of years to come.
Changes in average and extreme weather are affecting Maine agriculture, bringing both risks and potential opportunities. This two-page document provides some observations of how Maine's weather is now different from the past, what may lie ahead, and examples of farmer choices and actions that can minimize risk and help ensure productivity.
See a selection of summary reports highlighting the scientific contributions made by UMaine Climate Change Institute researchers. Report topics include Understanding the Climate System, Atmospheric Chemistry, El Niño, Mountain Climate and Environmental Variability, New England Weather, Human Impacts on the Landscape, and many others.